MLB Power Rankings

Now that the calendar has passed into June, we thought we would take our first look at the 2019 Major League baseball season.  The top 3 teams in the power rankings are no surprise: Dodgers (41-19), Yankees (38-20) and Astros (40-20).  The Dodgers are riding an unbelievable first 60 games  from Cody Bellinger (.376 average; 50 runs scored; 52 RBI’s; 79 Hits; and 20 Home Runs) as well as great pitching (26 wins) from the combination of: Buehler, Maeda, Kershaw and Ryu (8-1 with 1.48 ERA).  The Yankees have withstood injuries to three big boppers (Judge, Stanton and Hicks) while Gary Sanchez has emerged as a star catcher (18 homers in 39 games/147 at bats vs. 18 homers in all of 2018 with 323 at bats).  In addition, the back of the Yankees bullpen has been terrific with an ERA of roughly 1.5.  The Yankees would become even scarier if they land Dallas Kuechel (highlighting today’s post draft rumors).  The Astros are not a surprise but will need to withstand injuries to three key players: Correa; Altuve and Springer.  Correa’s injury is the most  unique (he cracked a right rib during a massage).  The next tier in the power rankings includes two surprises (at least to the two of us), the Twins (40-18) and the Rays (35-22), we will look at those two teams in more detail in the weeks to come.  The last two teams in the top end of the most recent power rankings are the Brewers (34-26) and Cubs (32-26). Let’s take a deeper dive into these two NL Central rivals.

Brewers vs. Cubs (Rivalry across the cheddar curtain/Wisconsin Illinois border)

The Brewers begin today 1 game ahead of the Cubs, with the Cubs having played two fewer games-2019 is lining up to mirror 2018 when the Brewers and Cubs had to play game 163 to determine an NL Central champ. Yesterday the Brewers made the controversial move of sending rookie second baseman Keston Hiura to triple A while bringing Travis Shaw back up from a rehab assignment. The move is controversial because Hiura hit .281 with 5 homers and 9 RBI’s in 17 games while Shaw hit .163 with 4 homers and 8 RBI’s in the first 6 weeks before going to the IL with a wrist injury. The Brewers will likely move Moustakas from third base back to second and have Shaw play third. The Brewers will need improved production from Shaw as well as from the first base position although Eric Thames is beginning to come on (average up to .254). How long of a leash will the Brewers give Shaw? if Shaw starts to hit could the Brewers play him part time at first and make a move with last years All Star first baseman Jesus Aguilar (hitting only .190) so they can recall Hiura?  The rest of the Brewers lineup looks pretty solid behind a terrific start from last years MVP Yelich (22HR’s, 60 hits, .312 average, 49 RBI’s and .425 OBP) and good seasons at the plate from: Braun (.269 BA), Cain (60 Hits), Grandal (.376 OBP), Moustakas (56 hits) and Arcia (hitting an impressive .264 after hitting at or below .200 for much of last year).  The Brewers made a major pitching move as well this week bringing Jimmy Nelson up from a rehab assignment.  Nelson has not pitched in the majors for almost 20 months (recovering from a major shoulder injury in late 2017). Nelson will fill in for Chacin and Gonzalez who went on the IL.  The Brewers have tried a number of starters in the first 60 games and are hoping that Nelson can solidify the rotation behind the two standouts Woodruff (7 wins, 80 k’s), Davies (6 wins, 2.20 ERA). Josh Hader (13 saves, .72 WHIP and 17.5 K’s per 9 innings) continues to build off a lights out 2018. We look forward to seeing the Brewers live with our good friends Aaron and Carol at Miller Park on June 30-that will be a busy day for Bri the Sports Guy as NBA free agency begins that evening.
The Cubs also made move this week calling up former Rockie/Indian, Carlos Gonzalez.  The 33 year old Gonzalez made a terrific defensive play in right field yesterday in their 8-1 win over the Angels.  Gonzalez drove in a 100 runs as recently as  2016 but his production has declined since then, let’s see how he hits in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Javy Baez leads the Cubs in average (.301) and hits (69).  Rizzo leads with 16 HR’s and 43 RBI’s while Contratres is tops in OBP at .398.  From a pitching standpoint the Cubs are led by Kyle Hendricks (5 wins and an impressive 3.09 ERA).  The bullpen has been a major issue for the Cubs in 2019 (Cishek leads with only 5 saves).  Will the Cubs acquire Craig Kimbrel now that no draft picks would need to be forfeited?  Behind Hendricks the rest of the starting rotation including Hamels (3.62 ERA), Quintana (3.78 ERA), and Lester (3.32 ERA) have been well above average. The rotation question mark to date is will Darvish (5.02 ERA).improve? We are expecting the Cubs to be active at the trade deadline if not before (the Seattle Mariners appear to be starting their fire sale early-traded Jay Brue to the Phillies, so the Cubs make look there for bullpen help if Kimbrel goes elsewhere.)
We look forward to following the battle of the cheddar curtain over the next 4 months.